Time management can be learnt, there are approaches and tests to become aware and strategies to cope with possible disruptive factors interfering with an effective organization.
Before getting into details please be aware that
• Time is a scarce asset
• Time can not be bought in a lifetime
• Time can not be saved or stored
• Time cannot be increased
• Time goes by continuously and irreversible
• Time is life
We all have time. We have to utilize.
First step is to become aware of your time organization. Sometimes we do not realize that we waste time or have the wrong priorities.
To properly understand we need to have a list of tasks with deadlines, and we need to set priorities. It may be best to subdivide in professional life and private life. How do you want to and can distribute between the two? Once aware, you implement the time management that works for you to be efficient in both, private and business life.
How to analyze and implement good habit step-by-step:
1. Track your time
For at least a week, keep a detailed record of how you spend your time each day. Use a notebook, a time tracking app (for example getharvest.com, clockify.me, toggl.com), or a spreadsheet. Be as specific as possible.
You may become aware that you check several times a day your Instagram or that you constantly eat or daydream. This is ok when you are aware of it, when it is part of your schedule. You may need these little breaks to be able to concentrate and stay creative. It can also be a waste of time, a habit that you need to break. While writing down you will find out aspects about yourself that you may be surprised about.
2. Categorize activities
Once you have a list with all the tasks and activities of a week, start to categorize into work, personal, leisure and chores. You will see if the proportion is according to your understanding of subdivision, where your time goes.
3. Set goals
Set clear goals of how you want to spend your time: work, family, exercise, relaxation. How much time do you want to spend on what? Once you have the rough division, work on a more detailed plan. Set detailed goals considering how much time they need to be realized.
4. Prioritize tasks
As there can always be unexpected changes and different situations which don’t allow you to keep up with your determined schedule, have a priority list of tasks. A priority list is crucial for effective time management.
There are different methods to help you prioritize tasks:
a.) Eisenhower Matrix (Urgent/Important)
Divide tasks into four categories:
- urgent and important (tasks that should be done immediately)
- important but NOT urgent (plan and schedule these tasks)
- urgent but NOT important (delegate these tasks)
- neither urgent nor important (eliminate or postpone these tasks)
This Matrix can be done with four quadrants (Quadrant Method)
b.) ABC/D Method
Label tasks A, B, or C:
- A tasks are high-priority and must be done
- B tasks are important but not as urgent
- C tasks are less important and can be deferred or delegated
c.) The 2-minute Rule
If a task can be done within two minutes or less, do it immediately rather than postponing it
d.) Weighted Scoring
Assign a numerical score to each task based on its importance, urgency, and impact on your goals. Then, prioritize tasks with the highest scores
e.) The Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule)
Identify the 20% of tasks that will yield 80% of your desired goals and results. Focus on these high-impact tasks first
f.) Must-Should-Could Method
An easier method you don’t have to think too much is to categorize into three groups, must do’s are essential tasks, should do are important but not urgent tasks and could do’s have a lower priority. There are several methods that work with just these three categories
g.) Critical Path Analysis
In project management, identify the tasks that are critical for project completion. Focus on these.
Priorities are also determined by deadlines and potential consequences of not completing them in time. You can use task management apps which have built-in prioritization features.
All methods are based on the same evaluation. The form varies so that you can find the best fit for you helping you to structure.
5. Create a schedule and block time
Develop a weekly and daily schedule that aligns with goals and priorities. Leave some extra time as a buffer. Block time for single tasks and follow this plan, so that you stay on track and avoid multitasking. You may have to adjust the schedule with changing goals or priorities or when you have over-or underestimated times.
6. Control tasks and their priorities, adapt
The time management process is dynamic. Control if you stick to your schedule and if you are meeting your goals. Adapt to change.
7. Use technology
Productivity tools and calendar apps, To-do lists and time management apps can be helpful and work well.
Besides the variety of methods there are some important human factors that influence the success of time management. Imagine somebody having ADS, Attention Deficit Syndrome or somebody having a motivational issue, somebody who gets easily tired, somebody who is working rather in depth and slow instead of superficial and fast. There are many influencing human aspects and it is important to be aware and consider these when planning tasks and goals.
Key factors that can play a significant role in influencing efficient time management are:
The ability to stay focused, resist distractions, and stick to the schedule is fundamental for efficient time management. People with strong self-discipline are more likely to successfully manage their time.
Intrinsic motivation, the internal desire to accomplish a task, people who are passionate about their goals tend to allocate their time more wisely.
Procrastination can be a significant barrier to effective time management. A study in 2014 showed that 20 – 25% of adults worldwide are chronic procrastinators. It is important to understand the reasons of procrastination, a topic often talked about nowadays. Procrastination can have several reasons like perfectionism, self-inadequacies and -esteem, low frustration tolerance, daydreaming, fear and anxiety, ADHD, poor study habits, poor impulse control, physical illness. Talking to a coach or psychologist
4. Stress and stress management
A high level of stress can disrupt time management efforts. People who can effectively manage stress and maintain a balanced workload are more likely to succeed in time management.
5. Decision-making skills and goal setting
Some people have problems deciding. They just can’t decide between more options. Poor decision making is connected to procrastination and leads to unproductivity.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is essential in time management. Self-awareness allows individuals to identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to address them.
7. Resilience and adaptability
The ability to adapt to changing circumstances and priorities, and to bounce back from setbacks or disruptions no matter what, is essential. Life is unpredictable and those who can adjust will manage their time more efficiently.
8. Social factors - peer influence and culture
Peer influence and cultural and environmental factors play a big role in time management. Cultural norms determine schedules. Think of southern countries where office hours are different, where businesses are shut down in August and the ‘siesta’ is an inherent part of the day. The perception of time and priorities can vary a lot.
Poor time management can be worked on through these human factors and personal development. You can also accept some factors, realizing they correspond your individual personality. Time management is subjective to some extent. Other factors may have to be adapted due to work or high unproductivity in all areas.
Awareness, transparency, and honesty are always the key.
“Time is the one thing we all have in common, but it is also the one thing that we all use differently.”